Nothing says the holidays quite like a good cookie swap. The sound of mixers going and the smell of cookie dough baking in the oven is enough to get anyone’s taste buds excited.
Every year, families gather in kitchens to make, bake, and share their best-loved cookie recipes. Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, there’s nothing better than hanging out and baking cookie recipes passed down from generation to generation in a cookie swap. 
Whether a cookie swap is large or small, here are a few tips to help ensure there aren’t too many additions to the already overwhelming holiday to-do list. Use these as guidelines to help any cookie swap run smoothly from start to finish. 

Guest Instructions  
Decide which type of cookie guests should bring. One option is to have one person buy all the ingredients and have everyone make their own cookie recipes all in one day. While this is fun, it does take the entire day. To make things go a little quicker, guests can bring their dough and the cookies premixed and ready to bake, or guests can bring the already mixed, made, and cooled final version.  

Guest List & Invitations 
Keeping it to around eight people is a good rule of thumb. Remember what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen! Invitations can be as simple as a text message or as elaborate as scented stationery. No matter what the invitation looks like, make sure to get the date on the calendar early.November and December tend to fill up quickly.

Cookie Menu 
To make sure there aren’t any duplicates, have everyone share which recipe they would like to make ahead of time. The cookie menu can even have a theme to it — like “grandma’s favorites.” And don’t forget to include some brownies, bars, and fudge! 

Holiday Cocktail 
Treat your guests to a signature holiday cocktail when the baking ensues. If you’re looking to try something new and festive, check out this issue’s Gourmet section on page 103. 

Large Table
In order to make sure all the cookies can be laid out and displayed for the taking, be sure to have a long, rectangular table. If there is enough space, put the table in the middle of the room so people can walk on each side. To take things to the next level (and a good Instagram opportunity), find a cute tablecloth and decorate the table to fit your holiday theme. Using different tiered cake stands creates an Instagramable display before guests take their goodies. 

Pretty Packaging 
Whether it’s a holiday box or a festive gift bag, let guests leave with their cookies looking beautiful inside and out. Having extra ribbon around is also a great way to add the finishing touch to a gift bag or box. 

Holiday Hits 
Don’t forget to set the mood with a classic holiday playlist. Pentatonix and Mariah Carey are always a hit. 

Final Tip
Remember, no matter how the cookie swap turns out (yes, there may be a burnt batch of cookies or two) this gathering is all about slowing down and enjoying these special moments with friends and family. Happy baking!

Cracker Toffee 
Makes approximately 35 crackers


  • 1 cup unsalted or salted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers
    1 package chocolate chips
  • Toppings: nuts, candy, or sprinkles 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. (If using regular foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray.) Spread crackers on the foil in a single layer and fold up the edges to box in crackers. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat on the stovetop. 
  4. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Quickly pour over crackers and spread to cover completely.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes in the oven. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
  7. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes or until the chocolate starts to look shiny and is soft enough spread evenly over the toffee. If the chocolate is still not warm enough to spread after 4 minutes, place it back in the oven for a minute to help soften.
  8. Top with any additional toppings, if desired.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours to harden. Peel away the foil and break into pieces.

Gooey Butter Cookies
Makes 42 small cookies


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract 
  • 1 package white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles divided
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add egg, almond extract, orange extract, and mix until combined. 
  2. Add white cake mix and mix until combined. Then, stir in ¼ cup sprinkles. 
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. The longer the dough chills, the less sticky it will be.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  5. Place powdered sugar in one bowl and the remaining ¼ cup of sprinkles in another bowl.
  6. Using a 1-inch scoop, scoop and roll out ball. 
  7. Sprinkle with extra sprinkles and roll in powdered sugar, completely covering the ball.
  8. Place on a greased cookie sheet and repeat. 
  9. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving to wire rack. 

Sugar Cookies
Makes 16 cookies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted


  1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. 
  2. Add vanilla, salt, and sifted flour. Mix all ingredients until blended.
  3. Chill dough 3 to 4 hours before rolling, so it won’t spread. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  5. Cut with cookie cutter, then transfer onto sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone liners. 
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly colored.
  7. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack. Decorate with royal icing or buttercream, or eat plain.

Cranberry Bars 
Makes 24 Bars

Bar Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup Craisins

Topping Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Craisins, roughly chopped
  • 2 squares baking chocolate or almond bark, melted

Bar Instructions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Line a 15-by-10 or 13-by-9 jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet, with parchment paper.
  3. Beat together melted butter and brown sugar over medium speed with an electric mixer.
  4. Add in eggs, orange extract, and vanilla extract. Beat until mixed well. 
  5. Add in ground ginger, baking powder, salt, and flour. Beat until just blended. Don’t overmix. 
  6. Stir in white chocolate chips and Craisins by hand. Spread evenly into the bottom of pan.
  7. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown at the edges. 
  8. Place pan on a wire rack to cool. Allow bars to cool completely before topping with frosting.

Topping Instructions

  1. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Add orange extract and vanilla extract. Mix well. 
  3. Spread topping onto cooled bars, sprinkle with chopped Craisins, and drizzle with white chocolate.

Christmas Wreath Cookies  
Makes 12 Cookies


  • 6 cups mini marshmallows 
  • 6 cups corn flakes 
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • Green food coloring
  • Red cinnamon candy or mini M&M’s
  • Non-stick cooking spray


  1. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter and marshmallows over low heat and mix frequently. 
  3. Add green food coloring until you’ve reached the color you like for your wreaths.
  4. Remove from heat and fold in corn flakes with a wooden spoon.
  5. Allow mix to cool slightly until it’s able to be handled.
  6. Spray hands with non-stick cooking spray and gather mix up rolling into small balls.
  7. Place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Poke a hole in the center and shape, creating a wreath.
  8. Decorate with 3 red candies. (You can also add sprinkles or sanding sugar for some shimmer.)
  9. Cool until hardened.

Chocolate Blossoms
Makes 34 Cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 34 Hershey’s Kisses 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
  3. Cream butter and both sugars together in the bowl with stand mixer until fluffy. Then, mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth. 
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients while mixing on low until combined. 
  5. ]Mix in milk until smooth, with dough coming together. 
  6. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in 1/4 cup sugar. 
  7. Place 2 inches apart on a lined or sprayed baking sheet. 
  8. Bake for 10 minutes and move cookies onto a cooling rack or plate. 
  9. Let cool for 6 minutes and then gently press the kisses into the top. (If put in too early, the kiss will get too warm and lose its shape.)

Oatmeal Chocolate Drizzle Cookie (Vegan, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly)
Makes 10-20 Cookies 

Dry Ingredients 

  • ½ cup gluten-free oat flour (if using homemade oat flour, make sure it is ground very fine and sifted) 
  • 1 ¼  cup gluten-Free rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon baking power
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 3 tablespoons warm water. Whisk together and set for 15 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 3 ounces vegan chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients
  3. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture. Using rubber spatula, stir and fold until well mixed. Dough will be very sticky and wet.
  4. Using a small or medium cookie scoop, drop the dough balls onto a prepared baking sheet spaced evenly apart. Using a fork, flatten cookies to desired thickness.
  5. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes.
  6. Place baking sheet on cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 to 60 minutes.
  7. Melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle chocolate over cookies. Let cookies sit until chocolate hardens, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Peppermint Bark
Makes approximately 12 Servings


  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 candy canes, crushed


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Fill the bottom of a large pot with 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat to low and place a large heat-proof bowl on top. 
  4. Add chopped semi-sweet chocolate and stir occasionally until chocolate has melted. Stir in extract. (You can also melt chocolate in the microwave.)
  5. Pour into prepared baking sheet and spread an even layer. 
  6. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
  7. Over the same pot of barely simmering water, place another large heatproof bowl and add chopped white chocolate. Stir until melted. 
  8. Pour over set semi-sweet chocolate then top immediately with candy canes. 
  9. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes. 

No Bake Lollies
Makes approximately 20 lollies


  • 3 ⅓ cups flour
  • 2 ⅛ cups butter
  • 1 ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Splash of milk


  1. Heat flour in 30 second bursts for 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave and stir between to kill any bacteria. 
  2. Soften butter and beat until shiny. 
  3. Beat in sugars and then flour half at a time. 
  4. Add salt at the end and then add in milk until it makes a dough consistency. 
  5. Mix in chocolate chips. 
  6. Roll the dough until 1 inch thick. 
  7. Use anything flat and circular that’s about ½ to ¾ inch smaller in diameter than your circle cookie cutter to press in wells, leaving enough space between each one to cut circles out with your cookie cutter. 
  8. Cut each lollie out with your circle cookie cutter. 
  9. Place on parchment paper in a dish or pan that fits in your freezer. 
  10. Press your lollie sticks through the wall, starting at the middle of the lollie with enough remaining outside to hold onto. 
  11. Add your filling in each well (or Leave the lollie sticks out to make a no bake dipped filled cookie).
  12. Freeze for at least one hour and then peel the lollies off your parchment paper and dip into a melted chocolate of your choice.
  13. Decorate with salted Carmel, melted chocolate, nuts, fudge pieces, or other toppings.